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Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 36-37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 36-42 include:
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- Alma 38:1: Prosper in the land vs. cut off from the Lord's presence. We might expect that prospering in the land as a result of keeping the commandments would be juxtaposed to not prospering in the land as a result of not keeping the commandments. However, Alma does not say this. Instead, he says that not keeping the commandments will result in being cut off from God's presence. This makes sense because prospering in the land is a covenant promise in the Lord's covenant with Nephi, while being cut off from the presence of the Lord is a covenant curse under that covenant. See 1 Ne 2:19-24 (discussion).
- Alma 38:4: Hardship despite obedience. Although Alma starts off in verse 1 talking about prospering in the land as a result of obedience, it is clear that Shiblon has generally been obedient but has undergone a lot of hardship. So, whatever blessings there are for obedience to God, they do not seem to include the avoidance of hardship. That is, prospering in the land seems to mean something different than immediate avoidance of hardship. Although Shiblon has undergone a lot of hardships, but he has kept the commandments (cf. verse 2) and the Lord has been with him—and as a result of his patience, "the Lord was with [him]," Alma says.
- Alma 38:5: Deliverance. While Alma begins speaking to Shiblon with reference to the Lord's covenant with Nephi (set forth at the end of 1 Ne 2), here Alma says "now thou knowest that the Lord will deliver thee," which is the same theme set forth at the conclusion of 1 Ne 1.
- Here Alma seems to admonish Shiblon to remember what he already knows. This bridging of time between what happened in the past and what should be preserved in the future, seems to be an important theme throughout these first verses of the chapter. That is, the patience talked about in verse 4 also seems to establish a sort of bridge through time, between current hardship and future deliverance.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.